Veteran Discounts on Veterans’ Day: Slim Pickings During the Pandemic


Veterans across the country will be looking for deals come November 11. Veterans Day is usually one of the best days of the year for freebies and discounts as a way to honor those who have served. In the pandemic, however, the list of restaurants participating in Veterans Day specials has waned significantly.

Quite a few restaurants have had to close their doors during the pandemic – either because their business model wouldn’t hold up to social distancing or because the months where they were forced to close left them incapable of recovering financially. This means places like Sweet Tomatoes, Fuddruckers, and Steak ‘Shake are off the list.

Although there are restaurants off the list, there are still some participating. Many of these were restaurants that figured out how to remain open – or at least open as soon as some of the restrictions were lifted. Applebee’s is offering a free meal off of a limited menu, Starbucks is offering a free coffee, and Cracker Barrel is offering a free slice of their Double Fudge Cake. Other restaurants have done well with curbside and are willing to offer an even better deal – like a free craft burger at Bar Louie or a free Grand Slam at Denny’s. While it’s great that these restaurants are participating (and there are a few more, too), the list of restaurants used to go on for pages and pages.

USA Today talked about the restaurants that won’t be opening again – including many that are owned by critically acclaimed chefs. Chains such as Chuck E. Cheese and California Pizza Kitchen have gone forward with filing for bankruptcy – so these won’t be on a Veterans Day list any time in the near future.

As for getting a discount on a haircut, even that may not be possible in some states. Particularly as the number of positive cases skyrocket around the country, many states are choosing to reverse their rulings on the various establishments that can be open. This means that many veterans will have to plan on waiting until 2021 to take advantage of the many offerings. When states allow, it may still be possible to get a free or discounted haircut – places like Great Clips and Sports Clips are offering freebies to active duty personnel and veterans alike.

Universal Studios and Disney generally offer Veteran’s Day packages, too. You won’t see them in the same kind of fanfare as in years past. The simple reason for that is that the months-long closure has hurt them financially. Now that they’re open, they’re still limiting attendance.

Countless retail stores have bowed out this year, too. They’ve seen a major decline in sales. Although some are willing to offer a small discount to use online, many are simply hoping to wait until next year. Target, however, will be offering a 10 percent discount with verification in the form of a Target Circle offer. Other retailers willing to offer a discount include Samsung and Big Lots.

Military Times has been regularly updating the list of who is participating. Of course, it’s always a good idea to call the location ahead of time to ensure that they are participating. Although most of the programs are within national chains, local franchises may choose not to participate. It’s likely going to come down to how hard they were hit during the closures of the pandemic.

Although the offerings this year are dramatically lower than they were in years past, the good news is that there are still plenty of places that will offer a discount to veterans any day of the year. All it takes is the flash of a military ID in order to get 10 or even 20 percent off of the total purchase. It’s restaurants and retailers like this that are happy to offer a discount if it means that they can form some allegiance with customers.